One major reason for the skepticism: concerns that do creatine makes you gain weight. Thing is, there’s much more to this story than meets the eye. Here’s everything you need to know about creatine and weight gain—and why the supplement has so much more to offer than the number on the scale.
Produced in the liver and pancreas (and found in animal proteins like beef and fish), creatine is a molecule our muscle cells use to produce chemical energy called ATP.
When our muscles need to contract, they break ATP down into ADP, explains Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.*D., CEO of the Applied Science & Performance Institute and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. Creatine helps turn that ADP back into ATP, essentially restocking our muscles’ energy stores.
Can Creatine Make You Fat Or Bloat Up With Water?
Does creatine make you gain weight? If anything the science points to creatine having a positive effect on body composition and it may even help lean mass gain. So why do some people seem to believe that it makes you look fatter or retain water?
Well…creatine does hold water, but it does so INSIDE your muscle cells. This is what we want! What we don’t want is extracellular water outside of the cells, beneath the skin for example – subcutaneous water. Changes in this type of water retention are mostly caused by changes in salt/water balances. Subcutaneous water can indeed make you look fatter and puffier.
As for intracellular water retention – this is good! OUR cells are made up mostly of water. So does creatine make you gain weight? Let’s get into it.
So Why Does Creatine Make Some People Look More Muscular Than Others?
Now here’s the kicker as to why creatine may make some people look more muscular and some less so. If you are lean with a low level of body-fat you will look fuller, rounder and harder. Your muscle cells swell up. So if you are well-defined your definition will show even better. Awesome!
However, if you are not very lean with thick layers of body-fat covering your muscles, then even if your muscle cells do increase in volume, you will not notice an increase in definition on the surface of your skin – there is still simply too much soft fat covering your muscles.
So if you want to look more shredded, get lean! Taking creatine will help you get there faster regardless of how lean you are already.
The Benefits Of Creatine
- Increased power
- Enhanced recovery
- Allows for increased training frequency meaning more and faster muscle growth
- Decreased fatigue
- Decreased muscle damage
Why Supplement With Creatine?
Creatine, or any other supplement for that matter, only works if your nutrition and workout is on point. This means if you’re not engaging your muscles properly in the gym, or if your diet in terms of whole food is not right, supplements aren’t going to do the magic. Before including supplements in your diet, always make sure that you’re getting at least 80-90% of your caloric and macro-nutrient requirements through high quality whole foods.
Creatine Types, Dosage & Cycling
3-5 grams supplemented daily year round. There is no need whatsoever to cycle creatine. It does not ‘lose’ its effect.
Simple creatine monohydrate will suffice. In terms of efficacy, nothing has beaten creatine monohydrate yet. My personal favourite is Creapure (micronized creatine) – no clumping issues in water whatsoever and an even purer version of creatine.
Does Taking Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
Now, the answer to the question everyone seems to ask about creatine: Yes, it technically does make you gain weight.
Don’t freak out just yet, though.
“Creatine brings water into the muscles, which can cause you to see an increase on the scale,” says Castillo. “However, that increase is not from fat.”
While most creatine users gain a couple of pounds while supplementing, exactly how much weight you gain depends on how much muscle you have. (The more muscle, the more creatine and water you can store.)
Is Creatine Safe?
100%. As mentioned previously, it is one of the most research-backed supplements there is and no adverse side effects have been found. If our body did not already make some creatine by itself it would NEED to be supplemented and would be considered a SUPER VITAMIN.
Benefits Of Creatine
- Increases Athletic Performance
- Enhances Recovery
- Increases Muscle Volume
- Improves Strength and Stamina